Amusing Monday: Baring for the cold in annual New Year celebration

The Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla is an age-old tradition of jumping into the cold waters of Puget Sound on New Year’s Day. Olalla in South Kitsap is just one of many places throughout the region and across the globe where swimmers dare to reinvigorate themselves by washing away the year 2016 and welcoming a new year.

Colin Eisenhut wears a polar bear mask while taking the Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla. Photo: Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun
Colin Eisenhut wears a polar bear mask while taking the Polar Bear Plunge in Olalla yesterday.
Photo: Meegan M. Reid, Kitsap Sun

Swimmers — including Colin Eisenhut, who jumped from the Olalla bridge wearing a polar bear mask — were cold enough and quite amusing yesterday, but I was able to locate some videos that might just make you shiver to watch them. For the Olalla event, photographer Meegan Reid posted 35 very nice photos on the Kitsap Sun website.

I wasn’t aware that snow swimming was such a sport until my wife Sue pointed me toward an amusing video that showed up on her Facebook page. After searching the term “snow swimming,” I sorted through dozens of videos to come up with a few I hope you enjoy.

When the swimming pool freezes over in British Columbia, the Simon Fraser University swim team goes outside to compete in the snow, or so it seems from a video posted in December by swim team member Rolando Hernandez.

In the second video, Julius Gloeckner, one of the most decorated swimmers in the history of Louisiana State University, takes to the snow and completes all four strokes of the individual medley, while his fiancée Emily Weil films his antics.

“The point of this Sunday morning, post breakfast snow dive (we swimmers call it ‘early practice’) is to look at the bright side and the opportunities of every situation,” Emily wrote on her YouTube post. “Work with what you have. Go outside your comfort zone whenever you have the chance.”

WAFB-TV in Boston picked up the story and interviewed the couple as the video went viral.

Another snow swimming video worth watching involves Shane “Shanesaw” Campbell and “Scuba Steve” Morris, two students from the University of Minnesota who apparently got a little colder than they expected after diving into the snow. Their “Snow Swimming” video is the third on this page. The Weather Network picked up their story.

If snow swimming freezes your tailbone, what does “ice hole swimming” do to your body? Take a look at the fourth video on this page. The YouTube notes say that Steve Olpin of The Talking Fly joined up with Boston McConnaughey and Andrew Hancock of Freakin’ Rad to plunge into a hole in the ice of Deer Creek Reservoir near Midway, Utah.

“This is super fun and really does reboot your brain,” writes Olpin in the notes on YouTube. “It is good to unplug and get outdoors. Enjoy!”

Finally, I can’t pass up the chance to feature one of the original snow divers. Check out the video below, although I am not sure of the original source. Another good video of a fox catching mice was posted on YouTube by the Discovery Channel.

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